There was big news in the NFL on Tuesday morning when Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith publicly requested a trade, and it’s not a stretch to suggest that fans of the other 31 teams — certainly including the Miami Dolphins — immediately began thinking about the the idea of Smith joining their team.
Smith is a four-year starter in the NFL, was named as second-team AP All-Pro in 2021 and he turned only 25 in April, so he’s a hot commodity who could make a lot of defenses better.
His addition would give the Dolphins, for example, yet another talented young starter in a defense that already includes rising stars like Jevon Holland and Christian Wilkins, not to mention one of the top cornerbacks in the league.
SMITH COULD BE MISSING PIECE ON DOLPHINS DEFENSESmith is a multi-talented inside linebacker who makes plays all over the field — he’s the fourth player this millennium with at least 500 tackles, 10 sacks and 5 interceptions in his first four seasons, along with Shaquille Leonard (previously known as Darius), Lavonte David and Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher.
In his public statement, via NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, Smith expressed his dissatisfaction with negotiations on a new contract with the Bears.
Smith is headed into the final year of the rookie contract — the Bears picked up the fifth-year option — he signed after being the eighth overall pick in the 2018 draft and is scheduled to make $9.75 million in 2022.
It’s probably safe to assume he’s looking for a much higher salary for a lot of years.
For comparison purposes, Leonard is the highest-paid off-the-ball linebacker in the NFL (per overthecap.com) with an annual average of $19.7 million and $33 million fully guaranteed on the extension he signed in August 2021.
Beyond the trade compensation that would be required to land Smith, making him fit under the salary cap will be another consideration for potential suitors.
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And that’s where it gets tricky for the Dolphins.
Yes, there’s always methods to create room to bring in a talented player (see Rams, Los Angeles), the Dolphins already will have to do some major cap massaging in 2023 because they’re already $2.4 million over for next season, according to overthecap.com.
Yes, 25-year-old All-Pro linebackers don’t become available every day, but …
Then there’s the issue of what it would take to pry Smith away from the Bears, and one would think a first-round pick plus other assets would be the starting point — and, no, Smith for Preston Williams and Lynn Bowden, who the Dolphins are shopping, would not get it done.
Lastly, there’s this issue, and that’s the Bears, and whether they’re going to acquiesce to their star’s demand.
SMITH TRADE REQUEST DEJA VU FOR DOLPHINSThe Dolphins have some recent experience with this, as it was a little more than a year ago that they went through the same thing with Xavien Howard.
In the end, the Dolphins recognized Howard’s ability and his importance to the defense, adjusted his contract for 2021 with a promise to revisit it this offseason, then followed through on their promise with a brand-new extension.
And Howard had recently turned 28 at this time of his trade demand, not 25 like Smith. In the end, one would think the Bears would make sure to keep their star linebacker.
But stranger things have happened, actually happen all the time in the NFL.
If the Bears eventually do decide to trade him, the Dolphins would be crazy not to be interested — though it would be an awfully tricky feat to pull off.